Video Games / Platform / Xbox360

A Solid Start, Ending The Rot – Resident Evil Revelations 2 – Episode 1 Review

A Solid Start, Ending The Rot – Resident Evil Revelations 2 – Episode 1 Review

Resident Evil: Revelations 2 – Episode 1 feels like the game Resident Evil 6 should, and wanted to be. The episodic approach to Revelations 2 isn’t just another experimental move by Capcom, but a beneficial move for the sake of game. Filled with fan service, references and the positive elements of the original, Revelations 2 is a curious step in the right direction. For £5, Episode 1 is two hours of setting up the rest of the series. Franchise familiars Claire Redfield and Barry Burton both feature, both of them with their own experience and gameplay style. Diverting away from the awful fire fights featured in Resident Evil 6, Revelations takes a much more subdued approach to it’s gameplay. Claire’s portion of the game is a slow burning affair, with less ammo and fire arms available to her. Barry is armed to the teeth from the get go. While his sections may be more action orientated, there’s still a degree of vulnerability lurking. There’s a distinct difference in both respective sections, giving the game a genuinely varied experience that consistently remains enjoyable. Both parts of Revelations 2 feature co-op mechanics. Claire is accompanied by Moira Burton (yes, THAT Burton) while Barry teams with a young child named Natalia. Both newcomers have their own unique uses that feed into the tone of their sections. Moira, as a result of the plot, only wields a crowbar and flash light. Natalia possess the ability to see enemies through walls, alerting Barry to their presence, as well as crawling into small spaces.   The co-op nature of the game is the weakest element of Revelations 2, at least as far as Claire’s part goes. Moira, as a character, is utterly insufferable thanks to a mixture of weak writing, voice acting and a annoying personality. Her constant whining and f-bombs grinds throughout the entire time the player is with her. Moira’s self proclaimed roles of ‘torch holder’ and ‘door opener’, make the character feel a little pointless. It’s utterly bizarre when a character’s main role is to point a torch at something.She does posses some usefulness in the shape of her ability to stun enemies by blinding them. Natalia is much less of burden. There’s a clear relationship developing between both her and Barry, giving the game a little touch of humanity. Her abilities of pointing out enemies, and crawling into small spaces, give her a legitimate place within the game. There’s something sinister behind the character that’s hinted at, obviously setting up plot point to be revealed in later episodes.   The biggest issue with the co-op focus is the AI and mechanics. Switching between characters can be down with a button press. The problem is, when the player switches characters, it often leaves their past choice frozen on the spot for a few seconds. It’s a issue that rears it’s head towards the later stages of Claire’s section. A few nagging issues with AI running into enemy attacks also make a cameo from time to time. When in control of Moira or Natalia, who both lack any real ranged attack, the AI tends do little. Claire and Barry, when controlled by the AI, will stare into space, or trot around in circles. Even when the relevant skills have been unlocked, the AI is near useless in a combat setting. The ease of switching between characters does curve the majority of frustration thankfully. Underneath the core gameplay is a skills system. Players earn points by their how well they perform in-game, as well as collecting items dotted around the levels. Skills range from improving the healing factors of herbs, improved weapon and ability damage, among a few other curious enhancements. It’s not exactly an essential addition, but it does add a little bit of welcomed depth and customization. Revelations 2 – Episode 1 does a fairly decent job of placing the player in a interesting setting. The prison island provides for some challenging encounters, most of which carry that classic Resident Evil feel. The level design is similar to that of the tight, dark spaces of the first Revelations. The chaotic nature of Resident Evil 6′s level design is a long distant memory.   It’s fair to say Capcom have successfully implemented the best of Revelations enemies into the follow up. From slow traditional zombies, to more aggressive La Plaga variants, there’s decent range of threats to encounter. The slower enemies do tend to run into a few issues when it comes to movement. Getting caught on the environment seems to be a growing trend towards the end act of Barry’s segments. While it’s not a major issue, it does detract from the players immersion, cheapening the atmosphere. By the time the two hour episode is over, there’s very little of the plot revealed. Beyond a few minor hints, the plot remains distant, allowing for the characters to be firmly established. It would be harsh to criticize Revelations 2 for it’s plot so early into the series, it is episode one after all. From what is shown, and previewed via the ending, there’s promise within the story, albeit a typically Resident Evil plot.   Replay value comes in the form of ‘Raid mode’, a Mercenaries like mode that’s surprisingly well crafted. Players choose a character, their gear and a set of skills, before being deployed into the field. Raid mode is a nifty run through multiple levels, gunning down enemies left, right and centre. Each enemy rewards the player with experience, allowing them to purchase more skills for their character. New weapons can be found across the map, allowing players to further customize their load-out. The mode is pretty basic, but hugely satisfying. There’s a odd sense of progression at the core of each run, even more so when beefier weapons are found and equipped. Much like Mercenaries before it, Raid Mode feels like it could become Resi’s next big mini-game. For a game released on both current generation and last, Revelations 2 hold up fairly well in terms of presentation. While there is a lack of detail in parts, the visuals on the whole are decent. Enemies provide gory imagery, with decent amount of detail on show. Human character models are adequate but look slightly robotic at times. The environments, at least indoors, look good enough to carry the brooding tones. Outdoors, the game struggles to look as slick. Rocks and trees have a noticeable lack of detail compared to the rest of the world, but this is merely nit picking. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 – Episode 1 is fine starting point for the series. Solid gameplay, decent production values , allow the game to blossom into a enjoyable bite sized experience. Capcom have managed to dial in their efforts into a much more precise experience, avoiding the messy nature of Resident Evil 6. With all the traits of the first Revelations present, a long with some improvement, Revelations 2 could just be the next big Resident Evil. It’s just a shame there’s no offline co-op. For £5, it’s hard to find reasons not to at least try Episode 1. The Raid Mode is genuinely great, the core experience is solid, with a promise of more to come as the series goes on. Capcom have seemingly found their feet once more. The nose dive in quality the Resident Evil franchise has suffered, it finally seems to be over.  ...

Vote With Your Wallets: The Threat Of DLC

Vote With Your Wallets: The Threat Of DLC

The great thing about the internet, or the worst, is everyone has a voice. Every single last person has the freedom to say exactly what they want to say. This has changed how businesses make,market and sell their products. The consumer has changed how they buy products, all because everyone now has a voice and digital soap box to stand upon. The video game industry knows all of it’s customers, and potential customers, have a voice…and it’s normally pretty damn vocal. The video game community/culture is never afraid to say exactly what they think about video games, consoles or any of the people within the industry. No one, and nothing, is immune to criticism, it’s pretty nifty. When it comes to video games, people’s voices are heard loudly, and often. The problem is, these voices only go so far, and it’s not far enough to force change.   The rise of DLC and pre-order extras has created such a dangerous form that it’s slowly becoming a ticking time bomb. A full retail price no longer gets you a full game, far far from it. Games like Destiny and Evolve are examples of how video games are going into a awful direction. It’s a direction that’s bad news for you, for me, and for anyone else who has a interest in video games. Serving as little more than a bare bones games, with a catalogue of DLC, they lack content and value. ”£44.99 please” is often followed by ” would you like to buy the season pass for £15.99?” A season pass? What is a season pass exactly? I’ve just bought the game, surely I have all the content on offer at the moment? Well not exactly. In the case of Destiny, you bought half a game, with the rest of the game being sold to you as DLC for the price of… £19.99. Destiny was hacked up, torn apart, and separated like a Cow on a butchers board.   Destiny highlighted the dangers of DLC and greed. The core Destiny package lacked basic features, it actively locked a decent sized segment of it’s players out of content. Add to that, the lack of story and content on the whole, and what your left with is a bit of a game. The sad fact is Bungie/Activison weren’t even subtle about their plans. Open up the case of Destiny and boom, promo material for DLC and season passes. The fact that Destiny was a commercial, and critical, success is bad news for everyone bar it’s developer and publisher. Never before has a game been pulled apart in such a way, all to support DLC. To make things even more sticky, Destiny limited it’s content even further, depending on what system you played it on.   Evolve is yet another game that heavily abuses DLC. There’s a basic game there, but there’s also a ton of DLC dangling in front of the player. What can you really expect from a game that announces its pre-order DLC before the actual game is announced? There’s that many DLC packs for Evolve, it’s a genuine challenge to understand exactly what your money gets. Season passes, a truck full of skins, characters and monsters all neatly packed behind a pay wall…prior to release. If Destiny is a worry sign of things to come, Evolve is the problem right in your face. The problem is, yet again, the game is being received well by critics, some of which barely mention the volume of content locked away. User reviews have been less favorable, with most of the criticism being aimed squarely at the DLC and the lack of content NOT hidden behind a pay wall.   This is why everyone having a voice is a great thing. The customers can have their say, they can tell potential customers the truth, the flaws. The public are not stuck behind ‘review guides’ nor do they have to keep advertisers sweet like so many popular sites. The consumer, the blogger, the independent Youtuber, even the person twitter, they can tell you unfiltered thoughts. A voice and a opinion is not enough however. This is where the old saying ‘Vote with your wallets’ comes into play. It’s pointless criticising the bull shit video game consumer have to put up with if you still buy the product. Buying into these glorified DLC catalogues, makes them a success. The publisher rakes in the money and sees a new vein to mine. The video game industry, at the moment, is the only industry that constantly finds new ways to fuck over their customers. Penny pinching at every turn, trying to make you pay more, for less.   The good old ‘Season Pass’ is one of the oddest creations of late. It’s a concept that sounds good on paper, but is rarely anything decent when put into practice. Pay X amount of DLC…often unknown, often never detailed, just promises. Where else in life would you throw up £15.99 – £20 for something that the seller can’t even tell you about? The chances are if you open up a modern game, you’ll find a flyer for a season pass. The only way to halt this behavior is to stop buying the products. Supporting the process, while denouncing it, does nothing. These business practices are no longer taking the odd weapon skin away from games, it’s taking huge chucks of playable content away. Evolve is missing monster types, games like Destiny, Evil Within, Watchdogs, Thief and Far Cry 4 are missing content…all sold as DLC/pre-order incentives. It’s getting to the point where a ‘Triple A’ release requires a spreadsheet to display what each versions offers. DLC, Season passes, pre-order incentives, retail exclusives pre-order extras, it’s all gone mad. Buying a game is no longer that, you’re often buying just part of a game. Leaving a thumbs down on a trailer, posting a negative comment, it’s not enough any more. Vote with your wallets.       Side note – If you’re happy to support DLC practices like the one’s mentioned in this post, that’s fine.     second side note – Destiny plays well, and has a good game at it’s heart…just the goodness is covered in DLC...

So How About That Resident Evil 2 HD Remastering?

So How About That Resident Evil 2 HD Remastering?

With the news that Resident Evil HD Remastered is the fastest selling Digital game, it’s only natural questions about Resident Evil 2 HD Remastered are asked. Capcom have done some pretty vile things to the Resident Evil franchise, but the HD Remastering of the original is pure gold. It reminds us of why Resident Evil became such a favourite, such a memorable classic. Capcom seemed quite open to releasing Resident Evil 2 HD Remastered, as long as the fans wanted it. How could the fans show their desire? Well that’s simple, make Resident Evil HD Remastered a success, and that’s exactly what they’ve done. Capcom, the ball is in your court. Not only does remastering Resident Evil 2 HD make sense financially, but it would also shed positive light on a fleeting franchise. Resident Evil has pretty much been beaten from pillar to post, soaking in some serious brand damage. No longer is the franchise seen as the powerhouse it was once, it’s more of stumbling mess these days.  If Resident Evil 2 HD Remastered replicated, if not surpassed, the success of it’s predecessor, then attention would turn towards Resident Evil Nemesis. Three remastered greats, supplying the gameplay the franchise has been lacking for some years now. Nostalgia is a powerful marketing tool, it’s safe to see any future remastered releases would do fairly at the very least. If we were to go all out with a theory, a retail box set of Remastered Resident Evil games would be a fine thing indeed. Resident 1, 2, 3 and the under appreciated Zero, all of them would make a brilliant retail/online bundle. This is of course nothing but wishful thinking, but surely Capcom have at least entertained the idea. Resident Evil 2 HD Remastered feels like a certainty at this point. Capcom have discovered a goldmine, a goldmine that also pleases the fans.        ...

February’s Biggest Games: Monsters, Evil Moons & Sideburns

February’s Biggest Games: Monsters, Evil Moons & Sideburns

After a quite start to the year, February plays host to some big games. From returning classics, to a new IP with a lot of responsibility on it’s shoulders. These are the biggest games due for release in February 2015   Evolve (PS4/XB1/PC) -   The concept of Evolve is interesting, but the recent open Beta exposes some flaws. Having a strong focus on multiplayer for a new IP is always risky. With four players working together to hunt down a player controlled monster, Evolve won’t be to everyone’s tastes. The concept works well, with player using their chosen classes skills to effectively hunt down their target. Team work is necessary, a single lone wolf can all but doom a player group. Arguably, playing as the monster is where Evolve truly shines. Hunting down smaller creatures scattered across the world, growing, evolving, hunting down players, it’s intriguing. The problem is, Evolve, is rather one note. The Beta raised this concern among many players, with many worrying the game would become repetitive within a matter of weeks. With no single player camping, the whole game is dependent on it’s player base. Given the fact Evolve is a new IP with a concept that’s not exactly familiar with the masses, the game may struggle to bring in players and maintain them. If you happen to have three/four friends willing to play the game, Evolve could be a wise investment. The shady nature of the DLC dealings may put some off, others may be cold towards the lack of single player. Pixel Gate Verdict: Wait awhile to see how popular the game is. PC users, Evolve has Steam Sales hit written all over it.     The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D (3DS) -   The darkest entry into the franchise, and a remake people have wanted for years. There’s not a huge amount to say about Majora’s Mask that hasn’t already been said. The customer base is already there, the chances are if your interested in Majora’s Mask, you’ve already pre-ordered it. While the core game might be 15 years old, it’s still worth playing. It’s not the best starting place for people to get into the franchise, but it’s certainly a decent place to start. Pixel Gate Verdict: Anyone whose interested in the game has already ordered it. The fact the moon looks even more terrifying in it’s new slicker form is testament to how well they’ve done with the visuals. Not the typical Legend of Zelda game, but still one of the best. You can’t go wrong picking it up at any price, be it full retail or second hand.     Dying Light (PS4/XB1) -   The retail version of Dying Light finally hits stores in late February. Even with copies popping up all over E-bay, most Europeans were forced to endure the delay…unless they paid £55 for the digital only version. Dying Light is another zombie themed effort from Dead Island’s developer Techland. It’s been received fairly well across the board, with praise being aimed at it’s free running mechanics. If you’re still not jaded by Zombies, and loved Dead Island, Dying Light is the perfect release for you. The retail version comes packed with a season pass, as well as the ‘play as a zombie’ mode that was offered as a pre-order intensive. Pixel Gate Verdict: If you’re not utterly burnt out on zombie media, then Dying Light is a sound purchase. The player movement is sleek, the visuals are decent, but the story is rather generic. The bundled in Season Pass and DLC also give the whole package more value for money. A decent purchase at full price, but a gut feeling says Dying Light may be discounted not long after it’s EU release.       Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS) -   While the franchise is a pop culture icon in it’s native Japan, Monster Hunter has never quite had the same success in the Western world. That hasn’t stopped the franchise gaining a cult following, with tight communities thriving around each release. The sublime Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate brought in a new fold of players, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate looks to do the same. The fantastic online play, the genuine sense of team work and community, it all gives Monster Hunter a real sense of character. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is skipping the Wii U, at least for now, and heading to the 3DS. With full online co-op, and more focus on adventure and story progression, Monster Hunter 4 could be the definitive hand held experience of 2015. The Guild quest system brings a whole new layer to the core game, freshening up the core game. New loot, new enemies, new quest mechanics and the return of some familiar monsters, Monster Hunter 4 is packing it all. Pixel Gate Verdict: While Monster Hunter is still considered as a niche game in the West, it’s quality in undeniable. After dabbling with Monster Hunt 3 Tri, and then heavily investing in Ultimate, the fourth installment is a must buy. The online community is extremely welcoming and supportive, feeding into the core concept of team hunting perfectly. Monster Hunter 4 is the perfect place for newcomers to start, and will surely be a place veterans will frequent for years to come.   The Order 1886 (PS4) -   So far, neither new console has had a exclusive that screams ‘Must play’. Titanfall was fun, Second Son was a blast, Killzone: Shadow Fall and Sun Set Overdrive were decent, but not unmissable. The Order 1886 is the next exclusive to try and make a impact. Boasting some impressive visuals, The Order 1886 has created quite a buzz around it, not all of it good. There’s been lingering worries about the game being nothing but another shallow, but pretty, third person shooter. Some see it has the pinnacle of cinematic video games. Set in a re-imagined Victorian era London, The Order 1886 places players in the middle of a centuries old conflict. Equipped with advanced technology and mythical items, players battle against fantastical enemies, as well as rebels threatening the State. The setting is interesting enough to warrant paying attention to, the gameplay however may not to be everyone’s taste. While the visuals look great, the gameplay hasn’t exactly blown people away. Cover based shooting, familiar third-person gameplay and quick time events may not be what people want from their next gen exclusives. There is certainly a market for the game, those looking for visual eye candy, bundled with a quick fix, will undoubtedly already have their pre-orders complete.   Pixel Gate Verdict: It’s fair to say that most owners of a PS4 will pick up The Order 1886 on release. This new generation of systems is lacking exclusives that define a console, and The Order 1886 may just be the game that defines the PS4, at least for now. The gut feeling is that The Order 1886 will be enjoyable, and beautiful, but short. Those on a budget may be well severed to wait a few weeks after release before they pick the game up.     Pixel Gate Picks – While these games aren’t the ‘biggest’, they still look like they could be worth checking out.   Dead or Alive 5: Last Round (PS4/XB1) - The franchise may not be as popular as it once was, but DoA 5 was a pretty fine fighter. Smooth gameplay, fluid controls, and well paced, it’s a decent title. Boasting the largest DoA roster to date, along with over 300 open and unlockable costumes, Last Round may cure that fighter itch. At a retail release of £28.99, it’s no too harsh on the wallet.   Resident Evil Revelations 2 Episode 1 (PS4/XB1/PS3/360/PC) - Capcom continue to use Resident Evil to experiment with. Revelations 2. In all fairness, media from the game hasn’t painted it in that great of a light. The fast paced gameplay, the generic environments, the sloppy AI, it doesn’t exactly scream quality. The only real reason Revelations 2 Episode 1 is worth checking out is Barry Burton…and the fair price point of £4.99.   Suikoden 1 & 2 (PSN) - The original releases are quite tricky, and pricey, to get a hold of. Both games have achieved the status of ‘classics’, and for good reason. If traditional JRPG’s are your thing, and for some reason you’ve never played both Suikodens, then now is the perfect time to invest countless hours into these deep classics.    ...

Game of Thrones Episode 2: The Lost Lords Review (PS4/Xbox One/PC)

Game of Thrones Episode 2: The Lost Lords Review (PS4/Xbox One/PC)

The first episode of TellTale’s Game of Thrones set the scene for a vast, and layered, story. With a host of new characters, new houses, and some familiar faces, episode one was a success. The various character story arcs were set, with each arc hinting at big things, all of which were drenched with the brutal twists and turns you’d expect from Game of Thrones. With all that being said, Episode two: The Lost Lords doesn’t exactly stay on the road paved by it’s predecessor. The Lost Lords opens with a huge mount of confidence. The writing is distinct sharp nature people expect from TellTale, only this time it’s complimented with a fairly long action sequence. In between quick time events, players engage in conversations with the supporting cast. This pattern of action sequences followed by conversation is what forms the heart of this episode.   While past TellTale games would often give the player the time to explore the environment, and solve puzzles to progress, The Lost Lords does nothing of the sort. This episode is purely about progressing the plot in the most efficient and streamlined way possible. It’s a jarring switch in formula, but given the sheer amount of characters and story arcs going on, the switch makes perfect sense. The game it’s self is not bad, far from it, it feels like it’s treading on thin ice. The sheer amount of stories going on per episode leaves little time for the player to truly feel like they’re playing a game. The Lost Lords does not feel like a point-and-click light experience are known for, instead it feels more like a interactive movie. This was true with the first episode, but the focus on pushing the player through feels far more intense in episode two.   TellTale have managed to craft a decent story, with each character having a distinct tone or theme at the heart of their tale. A broke house trying to rebuild amidst tragedy, the sell sword set for greatness, and the innocent soul trapped in a web of politics. Each character feels like a natural fit within Westeros, giving the plot a sense of legitimacy. Fans of the book/show may find things a little predicable at times, detracting from the impact of some of the plot developments. Voice acting is at a relativity decent standard, as too are the appearances from characters in the show, all of which are voiced by their actors/actresses. Lord of The Lost suffers from various issues that come in the form of audio bugs, crashes, and some shabby textures. Character dialogue had a habit of repeating it’s self at times, or just cutting out all together. Some character models would fail to load up fully, leaving them looking like splodges on a page. The overall visual presentation teeters on the edge of adequate to messy. Textures tend to look rough, especially in some of the games brighter locations. The last act of the game was met with a few crashes that resulted in starting scenes all over again. While the crashes were far and few between, it’s still an annoyance.   Game of Thrones: The Lost Lords builds upon the foundations of the first episode nicely. While the plot is decent, it’s pacing and constant switching of characters can become rather grating. The lack of gameplay and puzzle solving (beyond quick time events and dialogue options) does result in The Lost Lords feeling like a interactive episode, rather than a playable experience.          ...

January’s Game Of The Month: Resident Evil HD

January’s Game Of The Month: Resident Evil HD

January was a pretty odd month for video game releases. Dying Light totally skipped stores, instead hitting only services for the low low price of £55. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was officially released, even though some store had been selling it for the past month, for some reason. For the start of the year, there was a void felt when it came to ‘big’ games. Thankfully, at least two games managed to impress. One title was the return of a much loved game with fancy new visuals…again, the other was the previously mentioned Treasure Tracker. If I had to pick a single game to label as ‘Game of The Month’ then Resident Evil (HD?) would get the nod. While the game has been remade/re-released multiple times, I always find myself picking up the latest version. The Directors Cut offered a few new scraps, the Gamecube version remains as one of the best ever remakes, heck even the DS version was decent. This new version adds nothing more than slightly new controls and better quality visuals. All the additions from the glorious Gamecube version make a return, making this the most technically accomplished version of Resident Evil.   Even after playing all previously released versions of the game, this latest release is still brilliant. It serves as perfect reminder to days gone by, when video games weren’t all about the spectacle. Resident Evil is a perfect example of why modern installments lack any sense of identity. The original oozed of confidence, the game didn’t need, or want, to hold the players hand. The game wasn’t willing to give the player a easy ride just so they could see the ‘cool’ things. Resident Evil was filled with puzzles, near death experiences and plenty of sweet sweet back tracking. The atmosphere the Spencer Mansion plays host to is still some of the best in video games. The design of each section, combined with the devilish camera angle/placement, is beautiful. There’s a constant sense of menace with each turn of a corner, especially towards the later stages of the game. This is one of the main differences between classic horror and modern horror games, the player is genuinely vulnerable.   At the fair price of £15.99, it’s hard not to recommend Resident Evil to literally everyone. In a industry that has bastardised the term ‘survival horror’, and horror in general, Resident Evil is a prime example of what those terms truly mean. A combination of nostalgia, respect and appreciation for good design, leave me smitten with Resident Evil HD. A history lesson, a experience, a classic. Memorable mention of Treasure Tracker is needed. Nintendo have crafted a truly charming slice of video game bliss. The concept is simple, the execution is beautiful, it’s hard not to simple while in control of Captain Toad. While some may see it as a cheap cash-in, I beg them to try the game, those beliefs will be squashed. Classic Nintendo charm, gorgeous visuals, creative and ultimately fun....

Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin System Comparisons Detailed

Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin System Comparisons Detailed

With Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin coming closer to release, Bandai Namco have listed the differences between each format. Releasing on the Ps4, Xbox one and PC, as well as the last generation system, Scholar of the First offers various improvements and features on each system.   The improvements on the PS4/Xbox One include upgraded visuals and improved performance, as well as all the previously released DLC. More online players and new enemy placement also head up the PS4/Xbox One versions of the game.   A chart has been released for a easy point of reference, it can be found on the official Dark Souls 2 site.   A number of new screenshots have also been released,...

What Makes A Game The Worst Of Its Year?

What Makes A Game The Worst Of Its Year?

2014 had a number of bad games, and even more disappointing games. From the broken wrecks, to the sheer awfulness like Rambo and a number of titles that slipped out onto Steam. After doing a list of the best games, and the worst, I decided to focus on a single game. This one game would be the game I pointed to as the worst experience of the year, for me at least. My choice was a title that was set to revive a genre, bring it back to basics, created by one of the key figures in video game history. The Evil Within was primed to set the world alight. The Evil Within started off well, setting the scene, inserting the player into the universe, setting an effective tone. It’s a shame that same tone is thrown out the window within the first five minutes. My main problem with The Evil Within was it’s identity crisis. Manically shifting from survival horror, to action horror to straight up chaos. It’s tricky to nail down what exactly The Evil Within was going for. The attempts at scaring the player fell victim to tropes seen in modern Western horrors, such as jump scares and excessive gore. The action was frustrating due to ineffective weapons, low ammo, and far too many enemies.   At times it felt like the game was being developed by two different teams, one aiming for horror, the other for action. There was barely any cohesion between the two styles, instead, the game stumbles around, rarely finding it’s feet. This is a feeling that continues throughout, towards the later stages of the game things become more humorous than horrifying. Factor in the odd decision to give the game borders, obscuring the players view, and the gameplay becomes utterly frustrating. Horrendous plot and question gameplay choices aside, The Evil Within was a semi-ugly mess, somehow running into frame rate issues. If avoiding barely visible traps on sharp turns wasn’t fun enough, jittery frame rates made the game even more of a pain just to play. There are moments when the game shined, but these are firmly submerged into the slew of before mentioned issues. All these factors made The Evil Within my worst video games of 2014. It wasn’t the worst I’d played, that honour goes to Rambo, yet I still give it the label of the worst.   It made me ponder what exactly the criteria is when it comes to ‘worst game of xxx’. A simple search of Google and YouTube provided me with various sources to checkout. It became clear that the criteria is much more diverse than you’d initially expect. The last few years have saw the criteria evolve into a much more aware concept. No longer are we judging games purely on the content, we’ve began to look at business decisions, company behavior, PR and more. While the core principles still matter, audiences are now far more aware of the bigger picture. Assassins Creed Unity isn’t a ‘bad’ game, but the sheer amount of bugs, and the slack nature to way Ubisoft addressed this, led to Unity ending up on a vast number of ‘Worst of 2014′ lists. The same can be applied to Drive Club and The Crew. Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeros is a ‘good’ game, but the business decision it represents has seen it enter the worst of 2014.    Back in 2013, The War Z (now know as Infestation: Survivor Stories) was badly received, partly due to it’s dull gameplay. Another big reason why the game was shunned was down to the developers behavior. Banning anyone who dare point out criticisms from the games official forums, reacting to reviews in a hostile manner, selling lies, stealing terms and conditions from other games…all the good stuff. The actions of the developer took a game that would have been mostly forgotten about, and placed firmly near the top of many Worst of lists. Perhaps the change in criteria is linked to the likes of Steam Green Light and the continuing growth in the indie game scene. It would be far too easy to populate Worst of lists with cheap Greenlight/Indie games. Expectations of well known developers, more awareness of how willing the industry is to rip off their customers are all elements that could be linked to the change in how we pick our worst video games of the year. As video games and their players continue to grow and change, surely it’s only natural for our critical eyes to change with the times? It seems like a natural progression. Will 2015 see this change even further? Hopefully, and hopefully the industry will take notice of how aware the modern consumer is continuing to become.  ...

The Worst Of 2014: Broken Games, Broken Promises & Rambo

The Worst Of 2014: Broken Games, Broken Promises & Rambo

While 2014 has been a pretty solid year for video games, it’s also had it’s share of disappointments. Be it games that didn’t live up to the hype, games that didn’t work or even games that were barely finished, 2014 produced a few groans. The following is a list of games that fed into the worst parts of 2014, be it the quality of the game or a questionable business practice. From broken games to £30 demos, these are the worst of 2014.     Ubisoft – The Whole Company Ubisoft has been improving year after year, 2014 saw all their hard work hit a wall. Assassins Creed: Unity was released in such a poor state that the season pass ended up being canned. After a number of huge patches, the game still struggles to work. Clearly rushed out for the holiday season, along with the vast amounts of Unity merchandise, the game was a steaming mess. The fact the game contains a number of microtransactions was the icing on the barely working cake. Ubisoft did themselves no favors, tarnishing the name of their biggest franchise. Things didn’t get much better with the troubled release of The Crew. Bugs, performance issues, and the game just being rather average, The Crew was another messy Ubisoft title. Watch Dogs was another game that failed to live up expectations. While it was a commercial success, the game itself left a number of people feeling rather uninspired. Repetitive mission/side mission structure, over reliance on the pretty shallow hacking gimmick, and a poor story. The whole ‘affair’ over the down grounded visuals topped off a rather disappointing product. 2014 was a year to forget for Ubisoft, with Far Cry 4 being it’s only true highlight, and even that felt a little too close to Far Cry 3 at times. With the likes of Rainbow Six and The Division set for 2015, Ubisoft would do well to learn from their mistakes in 2014. Not ripping off their customers with broken games would be a good start.     Destiny – Bungie (Released on pretty much everything, including the 3DO)   Oh how the might have fallen. At it’s core, there’s a good game within Destiny. The problem is, Bungie released barely half a game. The ‘Kinda MMO, but not really’ nature of the game leaves Destiny awkwardly floating around between various ideas and concepts, rarely getting any of them truly right. After all the hype, all the marketing, all the promises, you’d expect at least a finished product. What we got was a taster, with DLC advertised from the first day of release. Playing Destiny is a truly odd experience. You’re thrown into the games world with no reason, no explanation, and told to walk forward and shoot things. There’s literally no story to truly speak off, leaving the already repetitive missions feeling like chores that need to be done before you can play the better stuff. The problem with Destiny is the sheer lack of content, and the lack of features that have become industry standard for online games. Running around a planet doing missions that all play the same is stupidly dull. The Strike missions are nothing special, normally ending with pretty poor boss battles. The loot table makes no sense. The end game is primitive, even more so given a large part of it is locked away given the lack of public match making. The PvP, while fun, has major balance issues between it’s classes, with the Hunter dominating everything in front of it. Destiny could have been great, if it wasn’t for the game being butchered into huge chunks and sold as ‘DLC’. Destiny felt like the biggest scam in modern video games, tarnishing Bungie’s pretty spotless record. A real shame, and a fantastic example of how greedy companies cannibalizing their product can affect it’s quality profoundly. The real worry is Destiny did fantastically well in terms of sales, with a follow up already in production. If less than half a game can do so well, it’s truly bad news for the consumer.       Rambo: The Video Game (360/PC/PS3) A full price on-rails shooter than looked and played like utter garbage. There’s honestly not much you can say about the game. It’s bizarre that it even managed to get released, a on-rails full retail film license game in 2014? very odd. The gameplay (if you can call it that) is a clumsy mess, rarely satisfying to play. Gun your way through all the Rambo films by holding your finger down on the trigger, that’s the game in a nut shell. The production value is god awful with the voice acting sounding totally alien from the rest of the game. The only redeeming factor of the game is the hilarious render of Rambo’s face and hair. How this game came with a full retail price is mind blowing.         The Evil Within (PS4/Xbox One/ PC/ PS3/ 360) Hailed as the ‘savior’ of triple A survival horror, The Evil Within had the world at it’s feet before it’s release. The problem is, The Evil Within is a hot mess of ideas, concepts and clumsy attempts to scare. While the game starts well enough, building tension, placing the player in a vulnerable state, it nose dives off a cliff soon after. The tone of the game seems to switch every five minutes, but the tone is never ‘scary’ or even slightly survival horror like. The Evil Within relied far too much on gore as a means of horror, gore and head shots. The Evil Within has it’s moments, be it a few of them, but the game just chugs along, it felt far too forced and padded. The clunky controls, combined with the below average visuals (for the most part), made the game feel dated, and not the nostalgic kind of dated. The story was a utter mess, rarely making sense of even appearing all that interesting. By the end of the game, it becomes clear The Evil Within is the equivalent of a ghost train. The story acts a extremely loose reason to put the player in the various environments. Jump scares and gore, clumsy controls and a awful story. The Evil Within wasn’t utterly terrible, but it underachieved in almost every department. The poor performance of the game is also a major issue, even on the PS4/Xbox One. A true shame, thankfully survival horror was well represented by Alien: Isolation leaving The Evil Within a good budget bin option.       Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes (PS4/ Xbox One/ PC) It’s the concept that makes Ground Zeroes a problem. Charging £30 for a demo is a pretty bold move, and it’s a move that paid off. Taking advantage of the lack of games at the time of it’s release, Ground Zeroes is a short run through the new Fox Engine. While the game looks and plays wonderfully, the lack of any real content is hard to look past. Acting as a prologue to Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain, Ground Zeroes offers a extremely short campaign and a few game modes to play through. It’s not a ‘bad’ game, but it is a demo. Charging for a demo is a worrying concept. There’s arguments that it’s a concept already in full use on the PC with the likes of early access, but early access grants the full game in the end.     Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Xbox One)   The sheer amount of content on offer is staggering, it’s just a shame the product is pretty badly broken. With a broken multiplayer, and game breaking bugs in single player, it”s hard not to point out The Master Chief Collection as a low point in 2014. One of the Microsoft’s big hitters for the Xbox One, The Master Chief collection had a big responsibility on it’s shoulders. The broken state of the game must of came as huge shock to Micosoft, as well as 343 studios. The constant updates and apologies suggest there’s genuine effort going into fixing the game. It doesn’t excuse the fact people paid full price for such a broken product.   The Master Chief Collection was yet another example of a big name game being released in a awful state. It’s been a rough end of the year for the consumer, it’s hard to recall this many big budget games being released in such poor states.      ...

2014′s Best Games: Witches, Karts & Nazis

2014′s Best Games: Witches, Karts & Nazis

2014 has been a fair year for video games. It saw Nintendo hit a good vein of form, Sony contuine to progress and the Xbox One boast a great exclusive, only for it to go multiplatform. The year has seen some major games hit the market, with most of them offering something different. This year also saw the release of barely finished games, mostly from Ubisoft. The following is my picks for the best of 2014.     Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4/Xbox One/ PC) Some shooters want to change the world, rewrite the book, a whole new experience. Wolfenstein just wanted to have fun, and it more than pulled it off. After a run of poor reboots from various game franchises, Wolfenstein came as a surprise. The story was a joyful jaunt though a alternative time line where the Nazis won World War 2 and went onto global domination. Set in the 60′s players blasted through various enrichments and enemies, all with a wonderful B-movie feel to them. From the streets of France to a Nazi Moon-base, Wolfenstein felt like a true journey. The gameplay was extremely tight, with some of the most satisfying gun play around. Nothing fancy, just straight up fun, Wolfenstein was one of the finer video games of 2014.   Telltale Games – The Walking Dead/The Wolf Among Us/ Game of Thrones/ Tales From Borderlands This pick is cheating, but Telltale just can’t seem to put a foot wrong. The Walking Dead continued to be strong, if not a little too depressing for the sake of it. The Wolf Among Us was a enjoyable walk through a fresh world based on a cult comic classic. Tales of Borderlands and Game of Thrones are still relatively new, but both are top notch pieces of work. Everything Telltale touches these days seems to turn to gold, and 2014 was their best year ever. It’s hard to recommend just one series, so I picked them all.     Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare (Xbox One/ PC/ PS4)   Who would of guessed the spin off to Plants Vs. Zombies would be one of the best multiplayer experiences of the year? This class based game had brilliant balance between each class, allowing each to player to feel like they were playing a part in the game. The ability to customize each class with various weapons and skills gave the game a sense of depth. There’s very little that’s new within the game, but everything is so finely tuned it feels as fresh as ever. Garden Warfare is arguably the best multiplayer experience on PS4/Xbox One, there’s little that rivals it in terms of all out fun. The map design and game modes do a brilliant job of complimenting each class and play style. It’s rare a game can remain fun while being on the losing side, but Garden Warfare is exactly that. The dark horse of 2014, and easily one of the best games released this year.   Alien: Isolation (PS4/Xbox One/PC)   The best game to feature a Xenomorph since Alien Vs. Predator 2. The sheer intensity felt in each second of Isolation is enough to put anyone on the edge of their seat. A genuine survival horror that doesn’t resort to giving the player all the power, this game as a utter success. The story may slightly weak, but the gameplay and presentation make it unmissable. As a huge fan of the Alien franchise, Isolation felt like the closest representation to the source material, by the fans for the fans. Each nook and cranny felt like it had been covered with a eye for detail, a labor of love. The ships design, the sound effects, the distinct ’80′s sci-fi’ look and feel, it was all recreated perfectly. The little touches made the game that much better. The ability to use the Kinect/PS4 camera to peek around corners, the PS4 pad pinging out that iconic motion tracker sound, it was all superb. The hide and seek gameplay won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but the sheer attention to detail showcased in Isolation makes it hard not to like. The Best Alien game made, fans MUST experience Isolation.   Shovel Knight (Wii U/3DS/PC)   The trend of trying to recreate old platformers continued in 2014, Shovel Knight stood head and shoulders above the rest. The gameplay is perfect, responsive, tight, just perfect. The whole game shines with confidence, each stage is as thrilling as the last. There’s various tricks shovel Knight has under its sleeve, all of which enhance not just the game, but the genre. Not many games truly raise the bar, Shovel Knight did exactly that. Gameplay aside, the music is a key reason to why Shovel Knight succeeds. A beautiful homage to games of yesteryear, each stage plays hosts to kick ass track. It completes the whole experience, almost tricking the player into thinking they’re playing a classic on the Virtual Console. It may of took nearly a year to hit the Wii U/3DS in Europe, but it was worth the wait. A modern classic in every sense of the word.   Dragon Age: Inquisition (PS4/Xbox One/PC)   After the train wreck that was Dragon Age 2, Inquisition came as a pleasant surprise. While the game starts off at a snails pace, the bulk of the game is hugely enjoyable, even if it’s missing the finer parts of Origins. The gameplay is fair mix of Origins and Dragon Age 2, with a more accommodating use of console controllers.The MMORPG like design of the core game can become a rather annoying, but the main story quests make up for it. The overall experiences feels well rounded and much closer to the ethos of Dragon Age, putting Bioware back on track.   Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)   Nintendo finished off 2014 strongly, and It all seemed to truly get going after the release of Mario Kart 8. While the Battlemode is pretty poor, the rest of the game is sheer bliss. Mario Kart 8 showed that the Wii U could render beautiful visuals, while entertaining the player to no end. There’s nothing that matches the sheer enjoyment of battling for first position across classic Mario Kart tracks. The online mode is spot on, with very little lag to speak of. Kicking back and blasting off turtle shells, drifting passed your rivals, being wiped out by a jumping fish, it’s always a beautiful experience. Pure, innocent, video game enjoyment. Mario Kart 8 stands out in a year that offered very few racers.     Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4/Xbox One/PC) The surprise hit of 2014, Shadow of Mordor was brilliant. It’s honestly refreshing to see a more mature take on Middle Earth, free from the restraints of the films. Shadow of Mordor took what other games had provided in the genre and perfected them, while adding the nifty Nemesis system. The concept of enemies increasing in power and political status via player/in-game actions, gave Shadow of Mordor a huge sense of depth. The Nemesis system works so well the player can use it to forge their own unique experience. The plot wasn’t much to talk about, the Nemesis system was the key to the games success. Players could share stories of how the system impact their experience, with each player normally having a different experience. The core gameplay as silky smooth, the combat near perfect. Shadow of Mordor was nothing short of fantastic.     Super Smash Bros (Wii U) Smash Bros is simply fun, in every sense of the word. The ultimate fan service, it’s hard not to instantly fall in love with the sheer chaos on screen. Nintendo know how to create fun video games, and Smash Bros is a perfect example of this. Easy to pick up, hard to master, there’s a hidden depth behind the game that keeps players coming back for more. There’s really not a whole lot to say about Smash Bros without repeating the word ‘fun’ about twenty times. There’s cases when you sit down to play a game and you can feel a smirk just engrave on your face, sheer joy, Smash Bros does that every time it boots up. The recent Amiibos give the game a more personal touch, as well as giving the game a unique ever growing scale of challenge.     Bayonetta 2 (Wii U) Oddly, Bayonetta 2 became the target of misplaced claims of sexism, denting some of the games hype. Agenda pushing and ignorance aside, Bayonetta 2 was the game the market needed, as a exclusive on a system no one expected at one point in time. Bayonetta 2 is possibly the best example of video games being sheer madness and fun. It’s hard not to crack a smile when summoning giant creatures to finish off even bigger bosses. There’s little to complain about throughout the experience, bar the slight reduction in challenge on normal mode. The wonderful gameplay that made Bayonetta a star in the first place returns in Bayonetta 2. It’s hard to find another game that matches such a fast pace with such tight controls that give the player a real sense of satisfaction. The set pieces are truly outstanding, often leaving the player in a sense of awe and wonder. In a world of super serious games, Bayonetta 2 was the perfect solution. One of the best games of 2014, even with unjustified accusations thrown at it.    ...

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